Preparing my young serviceberry tree for winter



First, I would like to thank you so much for all the help and knowledge you guys provide us with, it has helped me many times with my garden.

Now for the question, I have recently planted my serviceberry tree (amelanchier canadensis) in June of this year. It has been doing ok, no new leaves, in fact the leaves have been steadily falling, I gave it some fertilizer and compost but that only gave it some little leaf growth at the base of its trunk. I’m worried about winter for it. It’s pretty young, about 27 inches in height and less than 1 inch in diameter. I’m not sure if I have to do something extra for it during this winter or really how to go about preparing it to survive. I was just wondering what I can do and if there is any advice I can implement.

A little about the soil of my garden, the house is around 5 years old, it seems to be clay soil, I suspected it to be compacted but with the amount of earthworms I see around I think the soil is not that infertile despite it being clay. The house is located in north east Scarborough, if that would give any context.

Thank you for taking the time to read this! I hope to hear from you guys soon!


Amelanchier canadensis, commonly called serviceberry, is a lovely native shrub or tree in the rose family to add to your garden.  It has an open growth habit and produces white blossoms in the spring resulting in edible berries in the summer.  It likes a full sun to part shade location and is best suited for woodland or native plant gardens.  It is quite tolerant of most soil types but does best in averagely fertile well-drained soil – compacted wet clay being less preferable.  The addition of organic material such as well rotted compost or sheep manure should help with drainage as well as provide nutrients – a 1-2 inch layer can be added to the soil surface around the plant in the spring but not up against the plant trunk bark.

With regards to the leaf drop, this is very normal after a plant has been relocated or newly planted as it can suffer root stress or damage with the disturbance and may not have been able to get quite enough moisture or nutrients as a result.  Since your plant has made it through alive since June, I would suspect that further leaf drop is part of its annual fall cycle as it is a deciduous plant and it going dormant for the winter.

Serviceberry shrubs and trees are hardy to zone 4 which means it should be able to withstand temperatures down to around -35 degrees C, so your little plant should not need much in the way of extra protection in the GTA as it rarely gets that cold.  If you are concerned and want to give it some root insulation, a 6-8 inch layer of leaves covering the soil around the base of the plant may help – note, most of this should be removed first thing in the spring when the soil is workable.  You could also create a teepee or wind break using stakes and burlap which might give it some shelter from harsher winds.

One last point, water is essential for this new transplant so watering it well until freeze up would be a great idea.

Hope this helps.